Renowned Nigerian human rights lawyer, Jibrin Samuel Okutekpa, has weighed in on the heated social media debate regarding activist Aisha Yesufu’s decision not to stand during the reintroduced old National Anthem at a recent event. The incident has sparked intense arguments, with some asserting that Yesufu had a constitutional obligation to stand as part of her civic duties.

In a post made available on his verified X handle, Okutekpa, however, challenged these claims, questioning the legal basis for such an obligation.

“I have asked those who are crucifying Aisha and others who did not stand up when the old National Anthem was being sung or played to show me the offense committed. Is there any provision in Nigerian law that prohibits or makes it an offense to not stand up for the National Anthem?” he inquired, emphasizing his belief that no such law exists.

Okutekpa further argued that, while performing civic duties is important for maintaining order in society, it is not a criminal offense to protest against laws perceived as unjust or retrogressive, such as the reintroduction of the old National Anthem.

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“Failure to perform civic duties and obligations are not in themselves an offense,” he stated, adding that such protests are part of the rights of citizens to express dissent against governmental actions and policies.

He criticized the National Assembly for not consulting Nigerians adequately or providing convincing reasons for the anthem’s reintroduction.

Okutekpa also highlighted the government’s failure to address more pressing issues, such as economic well-being, suggesting that the anthem debate is a distraction from the harsh realities of poverty affecting many Nigerians.

Okutekpa called for a focus on holding the government accountable for its shortcomings rather than engaging in “meaningless debates” about civic duties. He underscored the necessity of ensuring that governmental policies genuinely reflect the needs and desires of the people….Sée Móre

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